It’s almost time for me to start R.C.I.A. However, I recently found out that the parish where I was going to attend and was signed up and everything is having their classes at a time that does not work with my class schedule (I’m in college). Since then I’ve been visiting other parishes, but so far none work with my schedule (I have several evening classes that I absolutely cannot change). One parish I contacted is not even having an R.C.I.A. class this year because I was the only person who had expressed interest.
This is particularly discouraging because I am suddenly having all sorts of doubts and wondering if I should go through with it at all. I still believe in God but I feel that God despises me and doesn’t want me to convert because He doesn’t want me to be saved. I have a neurotic personality, I think, and I struggle frequently with the fear that I am going to be damned and that God hates me. I don’t know where that is coming from or what to do about it - has anyone else experienced such fears?
I basically know no Catholics (almost no Christians at all), and my family isn’t particularly happy about my converting. I also have two chronic conditions that both recently worsened and although they’re not life-threatening or anything, I am in pain all the time. I’m only twenty and I don’t know why this is happening to me. I pray all the time, pray the rosary every day, but I feel as if I have no support anymore, either from other people or from Jesus, in converting to Catholicism. I am so unhappy.
I’m sorry for this rather dismal, neurotic post, but I just need some kind of support, as I feel very alone in this.
If there is a parish near you that is offering RCIA classes, then enroll there. Don’t let the number of attendees (or absence thereof) be a distraction to you. God prizes obedience above sacrifice, and your obedience to the true Church gives Him great joy!
The last thing the devil wants is for you to come into communion with the true Church! One thing I have noticed when studying the lives of the saints is that the greatest testing always preceded the greatest graces! The Lord trusts you to make the right choice, and it does sound that you have a great heart and desire for Him. He cherishes that, and this is the time when you will prove to Him that the desire you have is greater than any difficulty that may stand in the way of it.
Pray that God will send saintly people into your life (I can tell you from experience that you will run into them when you least expect it!). God is faithful in all things, and the Blessed Virgin Mary will succor you and help you in your struggle - pray for Her intercession.
Our prayers are with you - Heaven is with you, but only you can decide which path to take. Don’t give up, you have no idea what blessings await you if you endure just a little longer!
Please do not get discouraged and give up.
Continue to Pray the Rosary and Attend Mass as often as possible,
As to the issues surrounding RCIA, I suggest talking to the pastor and/or director of religion at your parish. Explain your situation and see if they can’t work something out. Perhaps you could pick up materials and study at home then be “tested” on it.
Perhaps your sponsor could go to the classes and record tehm on tape for you.
Satan will try to set up roadblocks for you but you need to persevere.
Even should you be forced to wait another year, it will be worth it in the end.
Have you discussed the situation with whoever is in charge of RCIA? They either might know of another parish that would better fit your schedule or may be able to work something out. I know when I signed up and mentioned needing to get off work early for class, they told me that if I need we could meet one on one at a better time. I didn’t do it, but it was an option.
Don’t be discouraged. I am a convert and Bi Polar. Satan does indeed work on our weaknesses, he would give anything to make you think that God hates you and doesn’t want you and to make you think you aren’t worthy of his love. He wouldn’t have sent his son to die such a death if he didn’t want to give us all a chance at salvation. Please get in touch with someone at the diocese who can help you out. Learn on your own if you have to, there are plenty of resources. You will be glad to become a Catholic I know I am.
God loves you. Do not let anything talk you out of that. He loves you a lot more than you love yourself. He loves each of us more, and more authentically, than we love ourselves. Even those of us who seem to love ourselves a lot.
If you are kept, by events beyond your control, from entering the Church right now, God knows all about it. If, God forbid, something were to happen to you, even if you have not been baptized, your expressed desire to enter the Church will suffice, as long as you repent your sins. (Anyway, that is how I understand #1259 of the Catechism.)
God is not trying to keep you out. Satan may be. Or it is possible that it is a coincidence. Anyway, as someone else mentioned, it is possible to get your RCIA-type instruction from a priest one-on-one, in a schedule that works for you. If the first priest you ask does not have time, keep asking priests until you find one that does.
Also keep in mind that when you pray, the point is not how you feel. You can’t make yourself feel a particular way when you pray. Sometimes God will give you the gift of feelings of comfort or devotion, but oftentimes not. Don’t think your prayers aren’t working because you don’t feel like they’re working.
Although he wasn’t a Catholic, I think you might find C. S. Lewis’ “Screwtape Letters” a helpful, and maybe comforting thing to read. I have found it comforting at times.
God doesn’t despise you and wants to save you. The Catechism of the Catholic Church:
1058 The Church prays that no one should be lost: “Lord, let me never be parted from you.” If it is true that no one can save himself, it is also true that God “desires all men to be saved” (1 Tim 2:4), and that for him “all things are possible” (Mt 19:26).
1821 We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere “to the end” and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God’s eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. In hope, the Church prays for “all men to be saved.” She longs to be united with Christ, her Bridegroom, in the glory of heaven:
Don’t let the doubts get the best of you, I battle them everyday too! My father is a devout atheist (he’d hate it if he knew I referred to him like that though) and is extremely disappointed with me…to the point where we don’t talk that much anymore. When I’m at Mass or at prayer I often have these little thoughts telling me what I’m doing is ridiculous, pointless, that I’m stupid etc., etc…the kind of things my dad would say if he’d actually talk to me about all this. I can almost hear him quoting me episodes from history where priests, bishops and popes have committed terrible acts and then using the works of people like Darwin and Dawkins to undermine the things contained in the Bible. These niggling doubts stopped me from joining the church for about 3 years. There were times when I thought it hopeless.
I know it’s difficult with your schedule but do try to go to an RCIA course (mine starts in 12 days) or ask your parish priest about your doubts. Mine has been an invaluable support. He recommended I read things like the compendium of the catechism (and later the catechism) to see what catholics believe and then to ask him if there were things I was unsure about. It really helped. He wasn’t patronising (since I have no religious background and have a basic knowledge of Christianity) and when he didn’t know the answer he wouldn’t pretend to, he’d refer me on somewhere else.
Hope that helps, I’m here if you wanted to share your doubts…see if they were things I struggled with.
there are a lot of complaints about problems with RCIA on this board but IMO this is the one with real validity. the fact that pastors and “the RCIA People” regard this as a class with a schedule rather than as a process. The last sentence particularly is very painful and shows that parish does not have a clue.
I wish you lived here because we can work with anyone’s schedule. I have candidates who spend most of their time on off-shore drilling platforms, Father works with people through e-mail who travel for their jobs, and he works with the prison ministry here. We accommodate people for the “class” portion of the process–instruction in the catechism–in many ways and times, in 3 languages. Then everyone comes together for Mass on Sunday for the rites, and the scripture portion of the process. Right now there are 7 formal classes going on (we start 3 times a year) on 4 days of the week. If there is a need for something else I will add it. We turn nobody away, no matter what time of the year they come, no matter what their schedule is. They have responded to the call of the Holy Spirit and for us to reject them is to reject Him.
Campus ministry in our town has RCIA for college students (and even some profs) so that is your best bet, see if your campus has a Newman Center or Catholic Student Center. You could take the instruction in the catechism there, and then participate in a nearby parish for the rites and Sunday Mass (hopefully your schedule does not keep you from Mass, that would become a problem).
If that does not work, call the office of your diocese–you can find a link to every diocese from the usccb.org the bishop’s website–and ask for the person in charge of evangelization and RCIA and describe your problem. I’ll bet they will get some action for you and shake up a few pastors. (PM me if you have a hard time finding a contact). usccb.org/dioceses.shtml
in all of this, in all the setbacks you face on this journey, know that even in difficulty the Holy Spirit is working in your life. Even when it seems like you face brick walls, that is how He works at times. In the old monasteries, the rule sometimes called for new candidates to be turned away at the door 3 times, before they were accepted as “monks in training” to test their vocation. There is some wisdom there, the more you persist through difficulty, the stronger you will become eventually in the faith.
The other thing to always remember that the spiritual life in general is fundamentally about obedience and humility, and that the greatest saints have struggled with obedience to what seemed to be idiotic commands from superiors, and through those struggles attained great heroic holiness.
one last bit of advice, if you have been speaking to secretaries when you call these parishes, ask to speak directly to the pastor “about an urgent pastoral matter” that is all they person on the phone needs to know. Then tell him your dilemma. If he does not work with you, that is the time to call the diocese. Secretaries just have in front of them the “schedule” given by the RCIA lady, and may not know there are other options.
Meantime, go on amazon and get a catechism of the Catholic Church and a bible, if the catechism looks daunting, get the Compendium to the CCC, which is a gentler, Q&A format. As you read it, take a highlighter and underline anything that raises a question for you, so when you finally get with a good RCIA you can ask good questions. Start with Mark’s gospel–no matter what your current faith status that is a good place to begin, even if you are already familiar with the Christian message.
I agree with the other posters that said to go to the church and speak with someone. They may be able to instruct you individually when it is a good time for you .If your parish is not flexible, ask at another parish. When my husband was in school, the pastor of the parish near his school met with him once a week in the evening. I wish you all the best in finding a place and in “coming home!”
Please keep us updated if you still run into problems after you ask if they can accommodate you at your parish. Someone on this forum will find a way to help you. Don’t give up!
Thank you for all your replies - you don’t know how much it helps (or maybe you do!).
I finally made contact this morning with a parish that is able to accommodate my schedule. I’ve only been there once and don’t really know the pastor, but at least I will be able to go to the classes. I was actually surprised how smoothly things went this morning.
Please pray for me that I will continue to persevere through whatever obstacles arise.
I went through the same struggle last year, and I still haven’t converted yet. I told the priest about a willingness to convert, and he told me the hours I could meet him. Some projects came up, and to make a long story short, I never met him. Heck, I even stopped going to church.
It wasn’t that great anyway. I don’t want to offend anyone, but the churches I’ve been visiting have become quite stale. Most of the sermons are really personal anecdotes that offer a cryptic message. Nothing that they say helps with the real issue at hand: entering into religious dialogue w/others so that we can all try to be on the same page about our metaphysics. (Maybe I just picked bad churches)
And of course, in a public college, I tend to keep a poker face about my faith. “Pressing the God button” isn’t really advisable.
And I got involved in the best (or worst) possible major - Philosophy. I’ve been on an apologetic search for defenses of the faith, yet each question is only answered by more questions. I’d like to go back to the conversion process, but I want reason to believe that what I’m doing is right. I don’t want to convert on a hunch. We only have one life, right? (Assuming that reincarnation is a false view)
I fear that time is short as well. And with all of the worldly concerns (school, job, money, etc.) pressing in, it seems difficult to keep one’s faith life in check.
I feel that the remedy to the problem is some kind of life change. Make a couple of sacrifices for faith-building and truth-seeking. In fact, have a truth-seeking life. But watch what you sacrifice. (You may sacrifice truth for truth! Yikes!)
You’re not alone. I hope this message wasn’t too cryptic. If it was, just ask me to clarify. Good luck!
P.S God doesn’t hate you. That isn’t part of His nature.
One of my fears about putting off R.C.I.A. has been that I will stop going to church … it’s hard enough sometimes to make myself go, anyway. But I do make myself go, because that’s where the Real Presence is, in the Eucharist at Mass. I have heard some weak homilies (also some truly great ones) but the homily is not the center of the Mass, Jesus Christ is. That’s why I want to be Catholic.
By the way, philosophy is my major as well! Have you studied St Thomas Aquinas at all? He’s a philosopher and theologian, as well as a saint, and wrote copious volumes in defense of the faith (down to very minute details).
I’m planning to study him soon so I can pick apart his arguments, study his logic, and see how well it conforms with reality. I’m also interested in Aristotle (because I think some of Aquinas’ things are based on Aristotle’s beliefs) and Socrates. Oh, and don’t forget C.S. Lewis.
I’m also interested in any arguments against the faith. Good arguments help us discard fallible ideologies and strengthen our grasp on reality.
Don’t give up :hug1: God lead you this far, so He will lead you the rest of the way. He definitely does love you and want you to be in His Church.
when I was going through my conversion, I also struggled with a lot of doubts, sometimes serious ones. I see now though that all this was just the devil trying to stop me from becoming Catholic. It was also my personality too cause I tend to worry a lot about everything.
Don’t give up… you’ll find so much treasure in the Church it will be worth it.
I agree to some extent, but I think you have to be careful. Christianity centers around specific divine revelation from God, which is beyond what we can humanly understand. Philosophy cannot grasp it. There is a certain area - like arguments about sin and whether God exists at all - where we can look at different philosophies and decide which argument is better or which is more plausible according to the world we see around us.
But if one reads philosophic arguments against the faith, and reads them without already having faith, one may be convinced by the arguments and it may in fact have nothing to do with reality (and how do we define reality, by the way?), but only with our limited understanding and lack of faith. At least, this is a concern for me, right now, because my faith is so weak.
Use of reason is always a good thing, but part of using reason is recognizing where reason falls short … we can accept divine revelation or not, and we can use reason to some extent to help us accept it, but ultimately even our use of reason is reliant on grace, and we have to be willing to believe. I know, because I come from a family of intelligent atheists, that one can certainly find rationales for not believing, if one wants to.
I’m not a philosophy person but if I may interjecthere - There is another, not popular, person well worth looking into. G. K. Chesterton. I don’t believe he is studied in most colleges but well worth the read.
I have the same problems. I work nights and won’t be able to attend RCIA very much. It leaves me with the feeling that RCIA is stupid and preventing many people from becoming members. I often think that is why the numbers in church membership is slowing down drastically because people don’t want to go classes every week for 9 months. Most of us have lives and can’t do it. That said, I will be trying my very best to make as many as I can.